On Thursday, the FedEx playoffs began at the 2014 Barclays, the first of four playoff events that follow the year's final major. With a star-studded field and plenty at stake, all indications are that we should have an excellent tournament on our hands.
Indeed, things opened with quite a bang, even if one particular star struggled out of the gate. Below, we'll provide updates on the leaderboard and recap the day's action.
Throughout the week, Hunter Mahan was one of the most consistent players on the course. On Sunday, the American stormed to the top of the leaderboard with his best round at the Barclays to capture the tournament.
Mahan finished the week with a six-under 65 to win his first tournament of the season. PGA Tour notes that the victory meant much more for his season overall:
A final score of 65 was also a familiar score for Mahan, as Shane Bacon of Yahoo notes:
Hunter Mahan has shot 65 or lower on Sunday in four of his five stroke play wins on the PGA Tour. 65 today at the Barclays.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) August 24, 2014
The 32-year-old notched two birdies through the front nine and was equally as strong during the back. After closing out holes 10 through 17 with five birdies, Mahan had his lone bogey on the final hole after already clinching the win.
Looking for the top spot in the FedEx Cup and potentially a spot on the Ryder Cup team, Mahan went out and had his strongest round of the week. One of the biggest reasons was his short game, as he showed on the 17th hole.
While Mahan was the main story, he wasn't the only golfer who excelled on Sunday.
Matt Kuchar finished his strong tournament with a four-under 67, shooting under par every round. He finished with four birdies on the day to finish inside the top five to finish in the top five, including a huge shot on the final hole.
Along with Kuchar closing out on a good note, Rory McIlroy climbed up one spot to finish tied for 22nd. But his one-under round was still an impressive one after starting off three over par on Thursday.
McIlroy rounded back into form over the weekend, including a massive shot on Sunday, per Golf World:
As the season slowly winds down, several huge tournaments still remain. With Kuchar winning and McIlroy moving back into contention over the weekend, both will be strong players heading into the remainder of the schedule.
For just a moment, it looked as if Rory McIlroy was going to make the most of moving day in a literal sense.
Instead, Jason Day and Jim Furyk sit alone at the top after wildly different strategies to make it to that point. McIlroy, despite two birdies on his first five holes, went on to post two bogeys and another birdie to wind up a full five shots off the lead by day's end.
"I can't put it down to anything else: I putted well yesterday but the first round I didn't putt well at all and then today I actually putted OK; just nothing went in," McIlroy said, per ESPN.com's Bob Harig. "So hopefully if I can play similarly tomorrow and just get a few putts to drop, then maybe there's a low score out there."
There certainly was Saturday for Furyk, who shot a bogey-free 69 in a rather predictable showing. The veteran is by far the most consistent player at the moment, as PGA Tour media points out:
Day was more erratic with his pair of bogeys, a double bogey and a seven birdies to crash into the top spot. The erratic play will have to change on the final day, though, as two of his miserable holes curiously came on par fives.
The double bogey came on No. 13 after Day was unable to find the ball, which gave way to some colorfully commentary after the day's round had concluded, as captured by Golf Channel's Jason Sobel:
Jason Day on lost ball at the 13th hole: "Whoever finds it can keep it. I think it deserves to stay there."— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) August 23, 2014
Had Hunter Mahan not shot one of his two bogeys on No. 18, the conversation at the top would be a tad different. He shot five birdies to land with a 68 and place himself just one shot off the lead.
Local product Morgan Hoffmann comes in right behind Mahan after a bogey-free 66 for the day's best round, which did much to negate his pair of 70s in the first two rounds. Joining him at two shots off the lead are six others, including Matt Kuchar, Bo Van Pelt and Kevin Chappell.
By now, fans are surely wondering what in the world happened to overnight leader Adam Scott. It's a valid question—answered by trio of bogeys and a double bogey to just one birdie for a 75 on the day.
Sunday is truly anyone's to take, although the feel-good story goes out to Furyk, who has failed to win the last seven times he has carried a lead into the final round.
Cameron Tringale and former world No. 1 Adam Scott have a share of the lead at eight-under after two rounds of golf at Barclays.
This is rarefied air for Tringale, who is currently 61st in Fed Ex Cup standings and has just two top-10 performances on the year, per PGATour.com. He followed up his Day 1 score of 66 with a fine 68 on Friday.
Scott, perhaps feeling unjustly ignored by many golf fans after the rise of Rory McIlroy and major-tournament performances of Rickie Fowler, surged up the leaderboard on Friday, finishing six-under for the day.
He finished the day in spectacular fashion, notching a share of the lead and leaving the course with all smiles courtesy of a birdie on the No. 18 hole:
Scott shared his thoughts on his fantastic Round 2 performance, via the PGA Tour's Twitter account:
The Australian sensation has some ground to cover in the Fed Ex Cup standings, but he can definitely make a huge improvement on his current 15th-place standing with a win at Barclays.
McIlroy shook off his awful opening day score and shot a scintillating 65 on Friday. One could forgive him the lapse in concentration considering the copious amounts of reputation-enhancing golf he's played in recent month and the numerous accolades he's acquired.
It was still only good enough to move him into a tie for 27th place, but it's still just five strokes off the lead in this ultra-crowded field. GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel did note that McIlroy has at very least dismantled the argument that he tends to falter on Friday's in big tournaments:
Ever since it was declared that Rory McIlroy couldn’t play on Fridays, his last four Friday rounds have been 66-64-67-65.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) August 22, 2014
Henrik Stenson continues his recent run of stellar golf—he finished fourth at the 2014 U.S. Open—with a fantastic 64 on Friday. He is now comfortably settled in at six-under for the tournament, good enough for sixth place.
Kevin Chappell, Brendon Todd and Jim Furyk continued with their fine performances from Day 1 and now sit at seven-under.
Notable players to miss the cut include Brandt Snedeker, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer and Marc Leishman.
Perhaps we've all been a bit spoiled. Perhaps after Rory McIlroy won The Open Championship and the PGA Championship, we just assumed he would dominate every time he stepped onto the course. Not only did McIlroy fail to dominate the first round of the tournament, but he was also plain bad on the day.
McIlroy finished with a three-over 74, a pretty shocking display for the game's brightest superstar. To his credit, he didn't shy away from addressing the performance:
Definitely not my best today. Had a productive practice session this afternoon. Hopefully a low round tomorrow can get me back in the hunt!— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) August 21, 2014
He didn't blame any factors like fatigue, either, per Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel:
Rory McIlroy shoots 3-over 74. "Fatigue isn't playing a part. It's I think just not putting the time in that I probably should have."— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) August 21, 2014
McIlroy simply wasn't able to overcome a poor start. As Justin Ray of the Golf Channel tweeted, a poor start on the first nine holes isn't new for McIlroy this season:
Rory McIlroy: 40 (+4) on his 1st 9 holes today. His 8th 9-hole score of 40 or worse in 2014.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) August 21, 2014
Generally, he overcomes those types of starts. Not on this day. But hey, it wasn't all bad for the star, as he finished with the following birdie, per the PGA Tour on Twitter:
While McIlroy was scuffling, Bo Van Pelt jumped out to a Thursday lead, finishing atop the leaderboard after shooting a six-under 65. Chips like the following one helped Van Pelt surge to the lead:
This long eagle chip-in on the 17th put Bo Van Pelt in the lead at The Barclays. http://t.co/2ZS5daJiuL— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 21, 2014
That's impressive stuff.
Van Pelt is going to have a tough time staying atop the leaderboard, however. Eight players are nipping at his heels at five under, and three more are at four under. Furthermore, a whopping 19 players are sitting at three under.
Yeah, it's bunched atop the leaderboard.
One of the players gunning for Van Pelt is Brendon Todd, who had more than a few highlights on the day:
Todd is currently just a stroke behind Van Pelt, and with shots like those, he won't be behind for long. Other notable names at five under par include Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk, while Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley and Ernie Els all shot three under.
Other notable players include Phil Mickelson and Martin Kaymer, who each finished at even par for the day.
Suffice it to say, a lot of star power is vying for the lead. And there's obviously a lot at stake here. The PGA Tour on Twitter projected the FedEx points after the round:
If the rest of this tournament is anything like Thursday, well, we're in for some excellent play over the weekend. Van Pelt will have his hands full trying to hold off the mob that is right behind him on the leaderboard.